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"Who is an entrepreneur?" Is it still the wrong question?


William Gartner's 1988 article 'Who is an Entrepreneur?' Is the Wrong Question suggested that more productive research into entrepreneurship could result from shifting the unit of analysis from the individual level to the functional level. Eighteen years later, it does not appear that the research resulting from this shift has produced agreement on the most appropriate definition of entrepreneurship. This paper compares three definitions of entrepreneurship currently being discussed by scholars and offers a fourth definition, which brings the unit of analysis back to the level of the individual. The paper reviews the literature defining the domain of entrepreneurship including the proposed new definition, develops a number of scenarios, tests each scenario against competing domain statements and concludes that the time has come to re-visit the individual as entrepreneur.


In 1988, Gartner, published an article in American Journal of Small Business titled 'Who Is an Entrepreneur?' Is the Wrong Question (Gartner, 1988). The article called for a sea change in the direction of entrepreneurship research away from the study of entrepreneurial personality traits towards the study of organization emergence. Gartner (1988, p.21) claimed that previous indicative definitions of entrepreneurship led to disagreement about the nature of the phenomenon being studied and called for acceptance of a functional definition of entrepreneurship. Gartner (1988, p.26) proposed the definition: "Entrepreneurship is the creation of new organizations". The article has been widely cited in the entrepreneurship literature and a number of researchers have successfully used the Gartner definition to simplify and thus operationalize the constructs 'entrepreneur' and 'entrepreneurship' in empirical studies (Chrisman et al., 1990; Cooper et al., 1997; Gatewood et al., 1995).

However, Gartner's definition has been criticized for narrowing (Katz, 1992, p.31; Lumpkin & Dess, 1996, p.162) and de-contextualizing (Bruyat & Julien, 2001, p.171; Reynolds, 1991, p.47) entrepreneurship as a field of investigation. Van de Ven (1993, pp. 212-214) criticized both the study of personality traits and the study of entrepreneurial behaviors as inadequately covering the process of entrepreneurship in the context of its social, economic and political infrastructure. The last decade has extended the focus of entrepreneurship research to include entrepreneurial behavior, opportunity recognition, choice of organizational form and the importance of the social environment (Ucbasaran et al., 2001, p.69). However, the larger challenge of linking entrepreneurship research to the rest of the social sciences has largely been ignored. Low (2001) has suggested that:
 Providing insight into the link between micro-level entrepreneurial
 action and macro-level economic progress is a potentially huge
 intellectual contribution of our field (Low 2001, p.20).

Low (2001, p.24) is suggesting that entrepreneurship scholars need to absorb some of their own teaching (i.e. become entrepreneurial) so that entrepreneurship research can influence academics in other fields.

A more important criticism of Gartner's definition could be that it has not significantly changed the nature of entrepreneurship research. What entrepreneurship researchers have been doing, by and large, has been collecting survey information using questionnaires. This observation is confirmed by a number of state of the art of entrepreneurship research articles written between 1982 and 1997 (Aldrich, 1992; Aldrich & Baker, 1997; Churchill & Lewis, 1986; Paulin et al., 1982; Wortman, 1986) as well as by a similar study done in 2001 (Chandler, 2001). These studies classified research presented at the Babson Kauffman Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BKERC) and articles published in the top entrepreneurship journals by their subject matter and research methodologies. Brief comments on the prevailing methodology found in each of these studies are summarized in Table 1.

As Table 1 shows, these studies have all described the administration of questionnaires as the dominant method of data collection amongst entrepreneurship researchers. Research based upon questionnaire surveys faces the difficulty of concise measurement. Entrepreneurship, as it has been described in the literature, is about contingency (Sarasvathy, 2002, p.106), creation (Meyer et al., 2000), market pioneering (Covin et al., 2000, p.177), newness (Gartner & Brush, 1999, p.7) and organization initiation (Aldrich & Martinez, 2001, p.42). These constructs do not lend themselves to the linear measurement of surveys and questionnaires (Bygrave, 1989, p.28).

This paper investigates whether or not "Who is an entrepreneur?" is still the wrong question. The paper poses two research questions: (1) "Is entrepreneurship limited to the business context?" and (2) "Can concepts from the field of entrepreneurship be applied to other fields of endeavor such as the arts, science, social development?" In answering these questions, the author calls for adoption of a more inclusive definition of entrepreneurship, suggesting a broad definition: "Entrepreneurship involves individuals and groups of individuals seeking and exploiting economic opportunity."

The paper reviews the literature defining the domain of entrepreneurship including the proposed new definition. The paper develops a number of scenarios, tests each scenario against competing domain statements and discusses the contribution entrepreneurship literature could make to other disciplines.


A constant in the nature of entrepreneurship research has been the fluidity of the boundaries of the domain. Entrepreneurship has welcomed studies from economics (Casson, 1982), sociology (Thornton, 1999), anthropology (Dana, 1995), psychology (Carsrud & Krueger, 1995), political science (T. Homer-Dixon, 1995) and the arts (Hoving, 1993). The field has been so inclusive as to be called a potpourri (Low, 2001, pp.20-21). The most frequently cited definitions of the domain of entrepreneurship are reviewed in this section.

Gartner (1988) Domain Definition

"Entrepreneurship is the creation of new organizations"

The research framework proposed by Gartner (1985) considered entrepreneurship within the perspective of four variables: individuals (the person(s) involved in starting new organizations), processes (the actions undertaken to start a venture), organizations (the kind of firm that is started) and environment (surrounding and influencing the new venture). This framework is depicted in Figure 1


Gartner's (2001) insistence that entrepreneurship is about organizing effectively limited the domain of entrepreneurship to activities that occur up to and including the launch of the new business. This organizing phase has been characterized as "elaborate fictions of proposed possible future states of existence" (Gartner et al., 1992, p.17); a characteristic which distinguishes it from other forms of organizational behavior or business management. In setting out this domain definition, it was Gartner's (1988, p.28) intent to limit and thus provide cohesion to the field of entrepreneurship research.

Venkataraman (1997) Domain Definition
 Entrepreneurship as a scholarly field seeks to understand how
 opportunities to bring into existence 'future' goods and services
 are discovered, created and exploited, by whom, and with what

Venkataramann (1997) attempted to establish the boundaries of entrepreneurship in an article titled The Distinctive Domain of Entrepreneurship Research by proposing the above definition. Venkataraman's discussion of this domain definition centered around two principal concepts: how individuals recognize opportunity and how they exploit opportunity (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000).

A research framework proposed by Reynolds, Hay and Camp (1999) parallels the Venkataraman domain definition. This framework was the result of a long-term multinational research initiative undertaken by Babson College and the London Business School beginning in 1997 (Reynolds et al., 1999, p.3). The project seeks to gain understanding of the complex relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth. The Reynolds et al (1999) framework attempts to place entrepreneurial processes in the context of the economies of a number of nations. This framework is depicted in Figure 2.

The Reynolds et al (1999) framework contextualizes the capacity and the consequences of entrepreneurial activity and shows the relationship of this activity to the primary and secondary economies of a nation. The framework, however, can be criticized for only being inclusive of commercial activity. Non-commercial activity (barter, reciprocal exchange, domestic economics and social economics) is excluded from this framework.

Entrepreneurship Division (2002) Domain Definition
 The Entrepreneurship Division's domain is the creation and
 management of new businesses, small businesses and family firms, as
 well as the characteristics and special problems of entrepreneurs.
 The Division's major topic areas include: new venture ideas and
 strategies, ecological influences on venture creation and demise,
 the acquisition and management of venture capital and venture
 teams, self-employment, the owner-manager, and the relationship
 between entrepreneurship and economic development.


The Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management has developed a domain statement that is a general reflection of the research definition proposed by Low and MacMillan (1988). At the 2000 mid-winter meeting of the Entrepreneurship Division, Dale Meyer proposed a domain statement more in line with the Venkatamaran domain definition (Meyer et al., 2000). However, Meyer's proposal was not adopted. A research framework created by Ucbasaran, Westhead and Wright (2001, pp.58-59) graphically depicts the current Entrepreneurship Division domain. This framework is shown in Figure 3.

Gartner (2001, p. 30) has criticized the Entrepreneurship Division's definition as being too broad to allow an encompassing theory. However, Entrepreneurship Division's domain statement restricts entrepreneurship to commercial activity; the only non-commercial reference in the statement is the application of entrepreneurship to economic development.

The Ucbasaran et al (2001) framework centralizes the process of entrepreneurship (opportunity recognition and information search) within the context of its internal and external environment (Ucbasaran et al., 2001, p.61). The internal environment is divided on a social organization scale (types of entrepreneurs and types of organizations) and a temporal scale (antecedents and outcomes). Ucbasaran et al (2001, pp.63-66) noted that corporate entrepreneurship, franchising, family business and the purchase of existing organizations all are included in types of organizational forms. Ucbasaran et al (2001, p.67) addressed Van de Ven's (1993, pp. 212-214) criticism that entrepreneurship research inadequately covers the context of entrepreneurship's social, economic and political infrastructure by including the external environment for entrepreneurship.


Proposed Framework
 Entrepreneurship involves individuals and groups of individuals
 seeking and exploiting economic opportunity.

This paper proposes an alternative framework which positions the process of entrepreneurship as economic acts of individuals within the broad context of the social, political and economic environment.

Cuff (2002) has described the organizational turn of entrepreneurship. This turn involves a shift in the emphasis of entrepreneurship study away from the study of individual artists to the study of organizations (Cuff, 2002, pp.124-125). This shift is particularly apparent in the two views that Shumpeter held of entrepreneurship. Shumpeter's (1934) first view of entrepreneurship was that of an individualist occupation. However, his later (Schumpeter, 1975) work embedded entrepreneurship within the context of organizational change.

This paper suggests that a definition centered on the actions of the individual be used as a contrast to organization-based definitions set out by Gartner, Venkataraman and the current Academy of Management, Entrepreneurship Division domain statements. The definition suggested in this paper is: "Entrepreneurship involves individuals and groups of individuals seeking and exploiting economic opportunity." This definition sees entrepreneurship as a process is influenced by opportunities in the environment as well as by the intentions and capacity of the individuals or groups seeking to exploit opportunities. Entrepreneurial capacity both influences and is influenced by the intentions of the actors, the process of entrepreneurship and the form of exploitation exhibited. Entrepreneurial capacity refers to a kind of human capital (Otani, 1996) which comprises the set of knowledge resources (Alvarez and Busenitz, 2001) and skills (Hindle, 2005) that are essential for an opportunity to be realized (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996), combined with the motivation do so (Reynolds et al., 1999, p. 21; Hindle, 2005).

Similarly, the nature of opportunities both influences and is influenced by the intentions of the actors, the process of entrepreneurship and the form of exploitation exhibited. The framework associated with this definition is set out in Figure 4.



This paper utilizes multiple scenario analysis to examine the viability of each of the definitions presented in the previous section. Multiple scenario analysis is a useful heuristic for examining fundamental uncertainties (Schoemaker, 1993, p.194). Good scenarios have been shown to be useful in providing insight into complex phenomenon such as the analysis of future trends (Wack, 1985, p.2) and the resolution of uncertainty (Wack, 1985, p.73). Scenarios provide a consistent storyline for the analysis of the underlying reality (Van der Heijden, 1996, pp.212-213) and a way of testing concepts in new situations (Kolb, 1984, p.21). This paper develops seven scenarios that contain qualities, which could be generally described as entrepreneurial, and tests them to see if each scenario falls within each of the domain statements outlined in the previous section. The purpose of this testing is to gain understanding of the limitations imposed by each of the domain statements.

Scenario 1: Starbucks Coffee

In early 1971, Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegl opened a store near Seattle's Pike Place Market that roasted and sold quality specialty coffee as well as bulk tea, spices and supplies. The company was named Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice. By 1981, the company had expanded to 5 retail locations, and had 85 employees. Howard Schultz, sales manager of Hammerplast, a company which distributed Melitta coffee filters, visited Starbucks curious to see why this little Seattle company was his largest client. In 1982, Schultz joined the firm as Director of Operations and Marketing. By September 30, 2001 Starbucks Corporation had 4900 locations worldwide, and revenues exceeding $4 billion dollars. (Koehn, 2001; Schultz, 2001).

Scenario 2: Howard Head

In 1947, an aircraft designer named Howard Head applied aircraft construction techniques developed during World War II to develop a ski that did not break. In 1948 Head asked professional skiers at Stowe, Vermont to test six pairs of hand-made prototype metal skis. All six pairs broke. Head persevered, and produced a metal ski that not only was durable, but proved to have superior turning and tracking properties. The start-up of Head Ski Company in 1950 was financed with $6,000 of Howard Head's own money. Head skis initially sold for $75, more than three times the price of competing wood skis. However, new skiers were attracted to the way Head skis improved their skiing. By 1954, the output of the Head Ski Company was 8,000 skis. By 1960, when the company went public, sales were over $3 million dollars (Christensen & Stevenson, 1967).

Scenario 3: Westwind Hardwoods

In 1978, cabinetmaker Ove Nielsen and his son Jan Nielsen began a business in Victoria, B.C. manufacturing teak, mahogany and oak marine furnishings such as bookshelves and binocular holders. Westwind Woodwork proved to be a marginal business and the Nielsens supplemented their income by re-selling lumber from their inventory. In 1984, when Ove's other son, Lars, joined the company, a decision was made to sell the manufacturing business and concentrate on marketing quality lumber. Funds from the sale of the manufacturing operations were invested in the new company, re-named Westwind Hardwoods Inc. In 1994, Ove retired from the company, leaving the two sons as partners in this family venture. The company provides stable income for the two brothers and an additional four part-time employees (Nielson, 2001).

Scenario 4: Harley Davidson

In 1902, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built a motor-driven bicycle for their own personal use and discovered a demand for the product. In 1907, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company was incorporated. By 1920, it had become the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. In the 1960's, Harley-Davidson diversified into the production of boats and golf carts but was unprepared for the invasion of the American motorcycle market by price competitive Japanese manufacturers. In 1967, the company was purchased by Bangor-Punta. In 1969, Bangor-Punta sold Harley-Davidson to American Metal Foundries (AMF). In 1981, a group of thirteen Harley-Davidson executives purchased the assets of the now unprofitable Harley-Davidson Motor Company and began the difficult process of turning the builder of American icons into a profitable venture in the face of stiff competition from Honda and Yamaha. Vaughn Beals, the new CEO cut the workforce by 40% to reduce manufacturing costs, and developed new products to increase volume. However, his most important decision was to align the company with its loyal customers. In 1983 the Harley Owners Group (HOG) was formed as a way to exploit the patronage value of its customers. Five years later, Harley-Davidson took its stock public, a profitable re-vitalized company. By 1999 HOG had a membership of half a million riders, half of whom participate in at least one HOG event each year. Harley-Davidson currently estimates the annual value of each active HOG member at $9000 based on new vehicle purchases, parts, accessories and general merchandise (Fournier et al., 2000; Teerlink, 2000).

Scenario 5: Rylstone and District Women's Institute Calendar

The National Federation of Women's Institutes is the largest women's organization in the UK. Each year, the head office asks for photographs from members for the traditional WI calendar. In 1998, the Rylestone and District WI's members decided to create an alternative WI calendar, one which depicted the crafts of the Women's Institute with the middle-aged Rylstone and District members posing in the nude. The funds from this non-traditional calendar went to the Leukaemia Research Fund in support of one of the member's husband, who was dying of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The 1999 calendar raised over $1 million. Media coverage and a film by Disney have greatly heightened awareness of the Leukaemia Research Fund. The success of this project, and media attention surrounding it has spawned a number of similar projects among social organizations (Barton, 2001).

Scenario 6: RVing Seniors

In 1978, the husband and wife anthropology team, Dorothy and David Counts, had a chance encounter with an elderly couple who lived full time in a motor home. Twelve years later, the Counts were forced to abandon their fieldwork in Papua New Guinea due to the unstable political situation in that country. As they looked for a new research site, they thought about elderly people living in Recreation Vehicles (RVs). The result was an ethnographic study of RVing seniors in North America, and an eight-year commitment to winter RVing (Counts & Counts, 2001).

Scenario 7: Recording in Extraordinary Places

In 1966 Paul Horn was a jazz musician without a hook. His talent was obvious: he had played with Miles Davis, 'Cannonball' Adderly, and Tony Bennett. His training was superb: Washington College of Music, Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Nevertheless, Horn felt his 'star' potential was unfulfilled. In 1966, Horn became involved with Transcendental Meditation and, while studying in India, made a solo flute recording in the Taj Mahal. Inside the Taj Mahal sold over a million copies. Horn followed up with recordings from the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and Kazamieras Cathedral in Lithuania. The 'sound' of each of these great sites provided the hook Paul horn needed to launch his solo career (Horn & Underwood, 1990).


Each of the seven scenarios is examined against each of the research frameworks to determine its acceptability as entrepreneurial activity. Acceptability is rated "yes", "no" or "maybe" for each scenario.

1. Starbucks represents a classic version of new entry. The specialty coffee market had already been established by companies such as Alfred Peetz's (Koehn, 2001, p.5), and competition existed in Seattle at the time. However, Starbuck's founders, Bowker, Baldwin and Siegl recognized the disequilibrium between supply and demand in the economy, and used this opportunity as the basis of a new venture. The scenario would be acceptable as entrepreneurship in all frameworks.

2. Howard Head represents the archetype of the entrepreneur as innovator. He invents a new product, and successfully brings it to market. Again, this scenario would be acceptable as entrepreneurship in all scenarios.

3. Westwind Hardwoods is representative of a small, family business. While the initial development of this business would qualify as entrepreneurial under the Gartner (1985) framework, the re-organization and ongoing operations would not be considered entrepreneurial. All the other frameworks would consider all aspects of this scenario acceptable as entrepreneurial activity.

4. Harley-Davidson through the second half of the twentieth century is representative of corporate entrepreneurship. The company in all of its forms would be considered a part of the primary economy, and thus the turn-around would not be considered entrepreneurship in the Reynolds et al. (1999) framework. The Gartner (1985) framework would also reject this scenario, since the turn-around does not involve the organization of a new venture. The other two frameworks would consider this scenario acceptable as entrepreneurial activity.

5. Rylstone and District Women's Institute Calendar is representative of social entrepreneurship. Again, the Gartner (1985) framework would also reject this scenario, since the turn-around does not involve the organization of a new venture. The Reynolds et al. (1999) framework would call the fund-raising portion of the venture entrepreneurial, but would discount the awareness-raising outcome as non-entrepreneurial, since it was not commercial in nature. The other two frameworks would consider this scenario acceptable as entrepreneurial activity.

6. RVing Seniors is meant to be representative of entrepreneurship in the process of scientific inquiry. The Gartner (1985) framework would reject this scenario as entrepreneurial since it does not involve the organization of a new venture. The Ucbasaran et al. (2001) framework might accept this as a variant of social entrepreneurship. The Reynolds et al. (1999) framework would reject this scenario since it was not commercial in nature. The proposed framework would accept this scenario because it involves the exploitation of economic opportunity. Economic activity, in this definition traces back to the root of the word economy: the management of household or private affairs.

7. Recording in Extraordinary Places is representative of artistic innovation. Again, the Gartner (1985) framework would reject this scenario since it does not involve the organization of a new venture. The Ucbasaran et al. (2001) framework would also reject this scenario since the business aspect of this artistic discovery is secondary. The Reynolds et al. (1999) framework would accept only the part of this scenario that is commercial in nature. The proposed framework would accept this scenario.

The results of the scenario testing of each domain definition are summarized in Table 2. These results provide evidence that the proposed definition is more encompassing than the Gartner (1988) domain, the Venkataraman (1997) domain or the Entrepreneurship Division (2002) domain. Further testing is recommended to confirm this initial finding, and to determine the boundaries of this definition.


The primary advantage that adoption of an encompassing definition, such as the one proposed in this paper, would bring to the current field of entrepreneurship is the inclusion of a multitude of forms of opportunity exploitation. This inclusiveness is likely to bring new insights into the process of entrepreneurial discovery and exploitation. Acceptance of the proposed domain definition would allow the field to grow beyond the bounds of a branch of business management. However, these advantages come at a price. The potential disadvantage of such an encompassing definition could be a return to the earlier criticism of entrepreneurship as "a broad label under which a hodgepodge of research is housed" (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000, p.217).

In spite of its potential disadvantage, adopting an encompassing definition would assist other fields of endeavor such as the arts, science and social development, which seek to apply concepts from the field of entrepreneurship. A few of these applications include intentions, opportunities and entrepreneurial capacity and are discussed in the following paragraphs.


Since entrepreneurs enact, in Gartner's (1992, p. 17) words "elaborate fictions of proposed possible future states of existence", the study of entrepreneurship has developed a strong literature on the nature of entrepreneurial intentions (Bird, 1988; Boyd & Vozikis, 1994; Krueger et al., 2000) and how these intentions are operationalized (Bird, 1988; Chrisman, 1997; Krueger, 1993). This research has developed models explaining the determination of feasibility and desirability to act in situations of opportunity (Krueger, 1993, p.15) and the effects of self-efficacy on perceptions of opportunity (Krueger & Dickson, 1994, p.392).

Understanding the influence intentions have on entrepreneurial behavior is important in any field that engages in social change. Dana (1995, pp.68-69) found evidence of links between opportunity perception and culture in a sub-Arctic community, suggesting that entrepreneurship is not a function of opportunity but rather is a function of the perception of opportunity. It follows that increasing the perception of opportunity in a community will increase the level of entrepreneurship in that community. The relationship between entrepreneurship and economic development is well developed in the economic literature (Casson, 1982; McClelland, 1961; Schumpeter, 1934). Entrepreneurial profits accruing to individuals tend to be short-term, while the economic gains accruing to society from entrepreneurial activity tend to be long-term (Rumelt, 1987). Increased understanding of entrepreneurial intentions can strengthen the benefits of entrepreneurship accruing to society while serving individual self-interests (Cornwall, 1998, p.144). The practical application of this strategy can be seen in the success of community micro-credit programs (Servon, 1999, pp.10-13).


A number of studies in the field of entrepreneurship have focused on the nature (Aldrich & Waldinger, 1990; Hills & Shrader, 1998; Krueger et al., 2000), process (Singh et al., 1999) and timing (Ropo & Hunt, 1995; Shane, 2000) of opportunities. These studies have shed light on opportunity recognition, a process that previously was considered embedded in the nature of gifted individuals (Granovetter, 1985). A clear understanding of what constitutes an opportunity is fundamental to the process of entrepreneurship. Mark Casson (1982, pp.57-58) has characterized opportunities as dissimilarities of information that cause misallocation of resources. Entrepreneurs discover opportunities because they have superior information processing ability or scanning techniques than other people (Shaver & Scott, 1991, p.33).

Understanding of the process of opportunity identification is useful in shedding light on ethical problems associated with the acceptance of innovation (Dees & Starr, 1992, p.100) and understanding the use of powers of persuasion to overcome the resistance to change (Rogers, 1995, pp.272-274). Similarly, an understanding of the process of adoption of new technology (C. M. Christensen, 1997; von Hippel, 1988) is essential to the process of commercialization of scientific discovery (Samsom, 1990, p.4). Understanding the nature of opportunities can serve scientific development by uncovering ethical, process and societal issues surrounding the adoption of new technology.

Entrepreneurial Capacity

Fundamental to research into the process of entrepreneurship is a desire to increase entrepreneurial capacity. Increased entrepreneurial capacity has been found to be associated with a focus on the future (Baron, 1998, p.286), parsimonious planning and analysis (Bhide, 1994, pp.157-159; Lumpkin et al., 1998, p.6), and the maintenance of a positive attitude through avoidance of counterfactual thinking (Baron, 1999, p.86). Techniques from a number of business management areas have been adapted to increase entrepreneurial capacity: business planning (Covello & Hazelgren, 1995; Touchie, 1989), risk management (Brockhaus, 1980; Dickson & Giglierano, 1986; McGrath, 1999) and networking (H. Aldrich & Zimmer, 1986; Stewart, 1989).

Political scientist, Thomas Homer-Dixon (1995), claims increasing entrepreneurial capacity is an important challenge facing today's society. Homer-Dixon (2000, pp.101-120) has called for increased social ingenuity to solve the increasing complexity and inter-dependency of the global political climate. Homer-Dixon's (2000, p.21) definition of ingenuity: "ideas applied to solve practical technical and social problems", is a construct parallel, if not identical to, the broad definition of entrepreneurship developed in this paper. Understanding of entrepreneurial capacity can serve political institutions by developing new and practical solutions to social problems.


This paper addressed two basic questions: Is entrepreneurship limited to the business context? Can concepts from the field of entrepreneurship be applied to other fields of endeavor such as the arts, science, and social development? Based on the alternative framework of entrepreneurship we have presented and tested using multiple scenario analyses, we suggest that entrepreneurship should not be viewed exclusively to business contexts. Further, we suggest that entrepreneurship concepts can be used to study phenomena in other disciplines.

A maxim from the practice of entrepreneurship is that it is better to have a small piece of a large pie than to hold on to a large piece of a small pie (Timmons, 1999, p.229). This paper suggests that the time has come for entrepreneurship scholars to follow this maxim by increasing the size of the entrepreneurship research 'pie'. The advantage of doing so is the opportunity to make a significant intellectual contribution to other fields of endeavor such as the arts, science and social development. To accomplish this, entrepreneurship researchers must be prepared to share custody of the domain of entrepreneurship research. Perhaps 'Who is the entrepreneur?' is no longer the wrong question.


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Brian McKenzie, California State University, East Bay

Steve D. Ugbah, California State University, East Bay

Norman Smothers, California State University, East Bay
Table 1: Summary of Entrepreneurship Research Design Studies

Article Title n Findings

"Entrepreneurship research: 81 "Sample survey was by far the
Methods and directions" most common entrepreneurship
 research strategy, employed in
 64 % of the sampled studies."
 (Paulin et al., 1982, 357)

"A unified framework, 51 "Throughout these studies, the
research typologies and use of mail questionnaires and
research prospectuses for interviews with structured or
the interface between non-structured schedules is the
entrepreneurship and small overwhelming type of research
business" methods used by most resear-
 chers." (Wortman, 1986, 277)

"Entrepreneurship research: 298 "An examination of the methodo-
Directions and methods" logies utilized in the research
 studies shows a preponderance
 (77%) of observational and
 contemplative theory building
 and surveys and few (less than
 4%) field studies." (Churchill
 & Lewis, 1986, 345)

"Methods in our madness? 322 "Investigators still relied
Trends in entrepreneurship heavily upon nonsystematic
research" methods of data collection,
 and when they ventured out to
 collect data, they depended
 heavily upon surveys."
 (Aldrich, 1992, 199)

"Blinded by the cites? Has 528 "Research design and sources of
there been progress in data have not changed very much
entrepreneurship research?" over the past 15 years, other
 than a decisive break with
 journalistic and armchair
 methods by the journals after
 1985." (Aldrich & Baker, 1997,

"Issues of research design 416 "Seventy five percent of the
and construct measurement empirical papers used primary
in entrepreneurship data. Of the studies using
research: The past decade" primary data, 66% used paper
 surveys, 25% used interview
 methodologies, 3% used phone
 interviews, 4% used experi-
 ments. Only four studies (2%)
 used participant observation."
 (Chandler & Lyon, 2001, 104).

Table 2: Summary of Scenario Testing

 Gartner (1988) Venkataraman
 Domain (1997) Domain
 Gartner (1985) Reynolds et al.
 Framework (1999) Framework

Starbucks Coffee Yes Yes
Howard Head Yes Yes
Westwind Hardwoods Maybe Yes
Harley Davidson No No
Rylstone and District No Maybe
Women's Institute
RVing Seniors No No
Recording in No No
Extraordinary Places

 Ent. Division Proposed
 (2002) Domain Domain
 Ucbasaran et al. Proposed
 (2001) Framework

Starbucks Coffee Yes Yes
Howard Head Yes Yes
Westwind Hardwoods Yes Yes
Harley Davidson Yes Yes
Rylstone and District Yes Yes
Women's Institute
RVing Seniors Maybe Yes
Recording in Maybe Yes
Extraordinary Places
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Author:McKenzie, Brian; Ugbah, Steve D.; Smothers, Norman
Publication:Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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